KHANEWAL, July 13: At least 12 people, seven children among them, were killed and over 50 injured when a large quantity of explosives stored in a house-seminary exploded in a village near Mian Channu, on Monday morning.
The blast was so powerful that it left a big crater and flattened over 70 other houses, a health unit and the adjacent seminary. It was caused by explosives stored in the house-seminary owned by Riaz Ahmad Kamboh, a religious teacher and reported to be an active member of a banned militant organisation.
AFP quoted the DPO as saying that an audio-cassette, pamphlets of a previously unknown militant group, two suicide jackets, detonators, six rockets and two rocket-launchers were found in the debris of the house. He said that Riaz’s sister used to teach students in the seminary. The blast took place soon after she finished her class at about 9 am and the students were leaving the house. Nine people were killed on the spot while three others died later in the Khanewal District Headquarters Hospital and Nishtar Hospital in Multan.
Riaz Ahmad was taken into custody from Mian Channu hospital where he had been taken in injured condition. Police had arrested Riaz twice in the past but freed him after initial investigation. He is reported to have continued his “mysterious activities” in the village after the release.
The DPO said that soon after the blast, officials of the Khanewal administration rushed to the place and carried out rescue work. “We called heavy machinery and ambulances from all tehsils of the district and Multan.”
District health officer Dr Yousuf Sumra said that about 52 injured people had been brought to the Mian Channu tehsil headquarters hospital and eight of them were later shifted to the Khanewal DHQ Hospital and Multan’s Nishtar Hospital. “We have received nine bodies, seven of them of children. One injured man died in Multan hospital,” he added.
SHO Sheikh Haidar said that nine people had died on the spot and three in Multan and Khanewal hospitals. Four of them have been identified as Mohammad Abdullah, Aysha, Hajra and Ali Hassan. NGOs and civil society volunteers set up stalls outside the THQ Hospital to arrange blood for the injured.
The blast sparked protests in Mian Channu. A large number of people gathered at the place and attacked police.
“The angry mob massively pelted police with stones and bricks when they reached the place. They also manhandled Mian Channu DSP Tanveer Bhatti and broke windscreen of his car,” Nawab Farhatullah Khan, former chairman of the district council, told Dawn. He said the DPO had to hide in the damaged building of the basic health unit.
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